09 August 2017

No one left behind Chris Bird, Project Manager in the System Engagement Programme at NICE

Chris tells us how he has seen Age UK work with the NHS to put NICE’s quality standard on mental wellbeing and independence for older people into practice.

In today’s fast moving world, new challenges present themselves daily. We need to adapt to keep up. But what about those people in later life who might struggle to do so?

We live in an ageing society. And it’s becoming increasingly important to make sure the elderly are not left behind. If they do, they may lose the connections to the world which helps to maintain their mental health and wellbeing.

NICE has a quality standard which encourages the NHS and voluntary organisations to work closer together to identify and improve the mental health and independence of older people. It is an important step for those who would benefit from a helping hand but can’t find it themselves.

Working with Age UK, I have seen first-hand how the essence of this guidance can be put into practice locally and change people’s lives for the better.

Age UK’s personalised integrated care programme is a service aimed at older people with complex and long-term health problems such as, dementia or arthritis.

The programme helps older people regain their confidence to do the things they used to, like taking public transport or going to the cinema, reconnecting them to their local community.

Working with GPs to identify those who are eligible for the programme, Age UK is able to set individual’s up with their own “independence coordinator”.

After a series of home visits to get to know the person better, the coordinator helps create some personal goals. These can range from attending coffee mornings, to arts and crafts, to a day out at the seaside – whatever is important to them.

Over the course of three months, the coordinator uses a measurement scale to assess how their mental wellbeing changes over time.

I saw first-hand the impressive improvements the service made to people’s mental wellbeing. Small, personal achievements we would take for granted, like getting on a bus or going for coffee with friends, can really help an elderly person regain their confidence.

There’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach to improving mental wellbeing, but services like this are a positive step in the right direction.

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